Civil Rights vs. Civil Liberties

300 words | 2 page(s)

Both sets of words are implied in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal” demonstrates the idea of civil rights, which is that all people, regardless of race, creed, color, gender or disability, deserve equal rights, and in particular, under the 13th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Also in the Declaration of Independence are the words, “that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” demonstrate the purpose of civil liberties, which does not specify any specific group of individuals but rather has a broader definition that all citizens have the right to speech or assembly, without interference by the government. Therefore, the Declaration of Independence, enforces both.

In 1776 Richard Henry Lee of Virginia introduced a resolution for independence to the Continental Congress that stated, the “United Colonies” are now free and independent States, absolved from any allegiance to the British Crown. Lee’s document supports civil liberties in that the United States was now free to form its own laws that would provide citizens with rights independent of British rule, which the signers of the Declaration of Independence (two days after Lee’s resolution was signed), felt had violated the civil liberties of Americans.

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The Voting Rights Act signed into power by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965 supported civil rights in that it specifically gave a minority group, African Americans, the right to register to vote without intimidation, violence, harassment or economic reprisal. The Act was the result of an examination of existing federal anti-discrimination laws that were insufficient in enforcing the 15th Amendment of the Constitution which prohibits federal and state governments from denying a citizen the right to vote based on race.

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